Irrespective of time and age, the famous quote of Mughal Emperor Jahangir “If there is heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here”, for the spectacular land of Kashmir, still stands true in every sense. Based on the northern extreme of the India, the land of Kashmir is known as an epitome of fascinating serene beauty, pristine and panoramic that it is never a mistake to conclude the place as the crowned top of the country. The spectacular beauty of the land is so famed that millions of travelers from across the globe visit the station every year to explore the magic of nature closely. Along with tours, trekking trips are also quite popular in this location. The Kashmir Great Lakes trek is one of the most popular trekking trips in this location where one can explore the treasures of nature in a whole new way. The spectacular beauty of alpine meadows and sky high snow clad mountains and shimmering lakes is a sight that pleases every heart.
Kashmir Great Lakes trek is a trekking expedition of 72kms which commences from Sonamarg at 7,800 feet, reaches the highest point Gadsar Pass at 13,750 feet and concludes at Naranag at 7450 feet. The trek is full of extensive mountain walking with some steep climbs and sharp descends. Overall the trekking trip is not considered as difficult but of moderate level though it can be quite physically demanding for which proper fitness is absolutely necessary. This trekking trip can be done by first time trekkers too and no previous experience in the field is necessary. Honestly, this particular trekking trip is not only a pleasure for the adventure seekers but it is an ideal expedition for the nature lovers too who finds it a privilege to bask in the undisturbed beauties of nature.
Being an ideal monsoon trek , the best time to conduct the Great Lakes trek is from end of June till the month of September. During this time the snow remains unavailable providing clear tracks filled with lush grasslands and plenty of wild flowers which stimulate the air with their fabulous fragrance. Any time after September is usually not preferred since the rains and snow can hit the mountains anytime without any forecast since mountain weather is absolutely unpredictable. During the end of June, temperature in the Kashmir Valley stays around 15C in the afternoon and lowers to 1C at night. But it further goes down during the month of September where the temperature at daytime stays around 10C and at night lowers to -3C.
Away from the buzzing city life, the Kashmir Great Lakes hiking trip is an ultimate answer for a stress free journey. Any traveler above the age of 14 is eligible to get on the trip. However since it is a little difficult journey, the fitness level of the trekker is very important. Along with fitness the health parameters should also be kept in note while availing the trip. The Great Lakes hike is a high altitude trek and that is why basic trekkers or the inexperienced ones can suffer from health issues like Acute Mountain sickness, nausea, headache, and dizziness. However these are temporary problems and happen due to less oxygen and air pressure at such height. In most of the cases the health issue gets resolved as travelers descend from high temperatures. However with proper fitness being maintained, these problems never affect much.
About the Trek
As the name indicates the Great Lakes trek comprises of a trekking expedition amidst some of the major lakes of Kashmir, which includes Gadsar, Vishansar, Kishansar, Nundkol and Gangabal. Apart from this one can also visualize several small lakes too which only aggravate the laden beauty of the track. The trek commences after the traveler reaches Sonamarg region which is based at a distance of 90 kms from the capital city Srinagar. It takes about 3 hours to reach Sonamarg where the first campsite is laid close to Sindh River at the beautiful Shitkadi village. The next day the trekking trip commences from Sonamarg towards Nachnai based at elevation of 11,500 feet. Passing through dense maple and pine forest and moving through verdant greenery this is a journey amidst the greatest beauty of nature. The stretch from Sonamarg to Nachnai is about 11kms and one can visualize some of best glimpses of natural treasures in the form of verdant Sonamarg Valley, long cue of silver birch trees and dense maple forest which absolutely induces a rejuvenating feeling in the mind.
The next destination of the trekking route is Nachnai Pass which is based at an altitude of 13,100 feet where the wide hollow pass is a sight to devour. From here the trekking route again descends to 12,000 feet at Vishanshar Lake where one can enjoy a lot of activities along with exploring the treasures of nature. The next leg of the trip takes the trekkers to Gadsar Pass which is again at an elevation to 13,750 feet which is the maximum altitude reached in this trekking route. From Gadsar Pass the trail becomes a little difficult with steep climbs, sharp descends and stony pathways however with no compromise on the scenic extravaganza. From Gadsar the trail moves forward to Satsar where the sight of fascinating lakes and brilliant colorful flowers at the backdrop of vast greenery is a breathtaking view to enjoy. After exploring the Satsar lakes it’s a journey of 11kms amidst rocky terrain and pine forest to Gangabal twin lakes. The sight of the gigantic Mount Harmukh can also be seen on this way. From Ganngabal twin lakes the trip concludes to Naranag village at 7450 feet through stony paths and difficult and challenging roads. From Naranag it’s again a drive back to Srinagar for an onward journey.
The trekking trip for Kashmir Great Lakes is a trip for 8 days and on each day one can explore some unique and undisturbed treasures of nature which remains imprinted in mind for ever. This is one of the best destinations for trekking in Kashmir.